Monday, February 29, 2016

Prawn and Curry Leaf Muffins #MuffinMonday

Aromatic curry leaves, fried till crispy in butter, perfectly complement the butter-fried prawns in these delicious savory muffins. 

I have an editorial calendar where I keep track of upcoming blog posts and what I am planning to cook or bake for different group themes. I penciled in Muffin Monday on the 22nd of February and started thinking about what to bake. If you’ve been reading along here for a while, you know that the new Muffin Monday doesn’t have a theme or prescribed ingredients. We are free and easy on the last Monday of each month. But then I discovered that this was a leap year so the last Monday of the month is actually February 29th. How did I get all the way to the middle of February and just find that out? Seems like it would have come up at some point in December or January at least, right?

Soooooo, I had an idea: A leap of faith muffin. We’d each use an unusual ingredient, one we’ve never used before, at least not in a muffin. I proposed it to the group and, good sports that they are, they all agreed. Make sure you scroll down and check out the link list of muffins. Some of them may look normal to you, but I can assure you that the Muffin Monday bakers have stretched themselves this month!

One of my favorite dishes when we lived in Malaysia was something called Butter Prawns. I’ve only made them myself once because they are a bit of a faff but, dear me, they are divine! Crispy curry leaves, crispy prawns and lots of bits of buttery crumbs. I didn’t do the crumbly part for these muffins but all the butter, curry leaves and prawns still gave me the right flavor I was looking for.

My one attempt at butter prawns

10 medium-sized prawns or shrimp, already cleaned and shelled (Mine weighed 5oz or 140g.)
1/2 cup or 115g unsalted butter
Generous handful fresh curry leaves
2 1/2 cups or 315g flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Black pepper
1 cup or 240ml milk
2 eggs

Preheat oven to 350°F or 180°C and prepare your 12-cup muffin pan by generously greasing with butter, oil or non-stick spray.

Chop the prawns into three or four pieces and put them in a bowl handy to your stove or cooktop.

Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a small frying pan and then fry the curry leaves briefly.

Remove them quickly with a slotted spoon when they get crispy and are just starting to brown.

Lower the fire and tip the prawns into the browning butter you've left behind.

Cook them till just pink. Remove the whole pan from the heat, add in the rest of the butter and set aside so the additional butter can melt and the prawns can cool.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt together in a large mixing bowl with a few generous grinds of fresh black pepper.

In another bowl, whisk together the milk and eggs.  Once the prawns are cool enough not to cook the eggs, add them along with the melted butter and stir well.

Add all the milk/egg/prawn mixture to flour bowl.

Gently fold a few turns then add in the crispy curry leaves. Continue folding just until the dry ingredients are moistened.

Divide the batter between the muffin cups in your prepared pan.

Bake in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until muffins are golden.

Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before removing muffins from tin.


Take a leap of faith with us this month – Bake some muffins! Many thanks to all the Muffin Monday bakers for playing along.

#MuffinMonday is a group of muffin loving bakers who get together once a month to bake muffins. You can see all our of lovely muffins by following our Pinterest board.

Updated links for all of our past events and more information about Muffin Monday, can be found on our home page.


Sunday, February 28, 2016

Cauliflower Cheese Pie with Grated Potato Crust

A crispy potato crust is filled with all the comfort food goodness of cauliflower and cheese, making this the perfect pie for a still chilly February evening. Or anytime really.

When I was growing up, one of my favorite ways to eat cooked cauliflower was with a side of mayonnaise in which to dip it. I got some funny looks outside my home, where mayo and cauliflower was normal, a given. I thought everyone ate it that way. That winning combo was rivaled on my plate only by cauliflower with cheese sauce. I remember one special family occasion – not sure if it was Christmas or Thanksgiving or possibly even Easter – but there was a platter of cauliflower and broccoli arranged most artistically by my youngest aunt, all smothered in thick cheese sauce. I could have eaten the whole thing by myself but had to share. More’s the pity.

I discovered as I began to travel and learn about other cultures and traditional recipes that the British make a dish called cauliflower cheese for special occasions as well. The cauliflower is steamed or boiled whole then drained. A cheese sauce is created by making a béchamel or white sauce to which sharp cheddar is added, perhaps with a little dried mustard powder. This is poured over the whole cauliflower, some breadcrumbs are often sprinkled on top and then the whole thing is baked until golden brown and bubbling. Heaven, I tell you! It's one of my husband's favorite dishes so it's on regular rotation at our house.

Which brings me to today’s cauliflower cheese pie. It combines my love of cauliflower and cheese, with his baked British favorite and bonus, puts it all in a crunchy potato crust. Hope you love it as much as we do.

Make sure to scroll down to the bottom where my Sunday Supper friends are sharing All The Pies, sweet and savory, with many thanks to our host today, Erica of The Crumby Cupcake.

This recipe is adapted from "Moosewood Cookbook" by Mollie Katzen.

For the crust:
Drizzle olive oil for greasing 9in or 23cm pie plate and brushing crust during baking
1 egg white, lightly beaten
1lb 10oz or 740g potatoes
1 small onion (2 1/3 oz or 65g)
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
1 medium-sized cauliflower (Mine weighed about 2lbs 3oz or 980g.)
1 tablespoon butter
1 medium onion (about 3 oz or 85g)
3 cloves garlic
1 hot chili pepper - optional but recommended
1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Several sprigs fresh thyme
1 1/4 cup (packed) or 100g cheddar cheese
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
1/4 cup milk
2 teaspoons cornstarch
Paprika or cayenne for the top

Preheat the oven to 400°F 200°C. Grease a 9in or 23cm pie plate with a drizzle of olive oil.

Grate the cheese and set it aside. (I used my food processor but you can do it by hand, of course.)

Whisk your egg white with the salt and a good few grinds of fresh black pepper. Peel and grate your potatoes. (Once again, I used the food processor.) Squeeze the liquid out and stir the grated potatoes into the egg white immediately to stop them from discoloring.

Grate your onion and add it to the potato mixture, stirring well to combine.

Pour the grated potato mixture into the prepared pie plate and use your fingers to pat it down evenly to make a crust. It's going to seem quite wet, despite your squeezing the liquid out of the potatoes but don't worry. The moisture bakes away and the crust does get crunchy in the hot oven.

Bake the crust for 30 minutes in your preheated oven, then brush just up to the brown edge with a little olive oil (about 1 teaspoon) and bake for 10 more minutes.

Remove the crust from the oven and turn the temperature down to 375°F or 190°C.

While the crust is in the oven, you can get on with the filling. Remove the leaves and hard stem from the head of cauliflower and cut the florets into bite-sized pieces.

Chop your onion, mince the garlic and pepper and strip the leaves off of the fresh thyme sprigs. Save one sprig for garnish, if desired.

Melt the butter in a large skillet. Add the onion, garlic, chili pepper, salt and thyme with a few good grinds of fresh black pepper, and sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes.

Add the cauliflower, stir, and cover. Cook until tender, stirring occasionally - about 8 to 10 minutes.

When the baked crust is ready, sprinkle half the grated cheese onto it.

Spoon the sautéed vegetables on top, then top with the remaining cheese.

Beat the eggs, egg yolk, milk and cornstarch together making sure the cornstarch has dissolved and pour this over the top.

Dust lightly with paprika or cayenne.

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until set. If you feel the edges are getting too brown before the pie is cooked through, cover them with some foil.

Serve hot or warm.


I've got a bunch of pies I'm sure you'll love here:
Elle's Fresh Blueberry Pie
Sausage Apple Onion Tart
Brown Sugar Nectarine Tart
and these special Portuguese custard tarts, baked in honor of our Sunday Supper leader, Isabel, just to name a few.

But make sure you don't miss this fabulous link list to the #SundaySupper Pies: Sweet & Savory!

Sweet As Pie
Mealtime Pie


Friday, February 26, 2016

Elle's Fresh Blueberry Pie #FridayPieDay

Fresh blueberries are the star of this pie, stirred through with a sweet berry glaze and then piled into a crispy, flakey pie crust. 

It’s been just over two years since the blogging community got the terrible news that one of our special friends, Lee Ann known to us all as Elle of Elle’s Kitchen had passed away. We pulled together to celebrate her life by choosing recipes to cook from her blog and had a great big Ellapalooza party. If you’ve been reading this space for that long you might remember that I shared a one of Lee Ann’s delicious cocktails, a Moscow Mule. What you couldn’t know is that the refreshing Mule won out over this fresh blueberry pie by just a nose. It’s been on my to-make list too long but since it's a sad anniversary of sorts and the blueberries were on sale this week at my local supermarket, it seemed like the right time to make it and remember Elle. We all still miss her.

Dough for a one crust pie 
1 egg white
1 cup or 150g frozen berry blend (I used a mix called Black Forest fruit.)
4 cups or 630g fresh blueberries
1/2 cup or 120ml water
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup or 100g sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 pinch salt

Wash the blueberries and spin them dry gently in a salad spinner and lightly beat the egg white.

Heat oven to 375°F or 190°C. Line the pie pan with the crust dough, and then cover with a piece of parchment paper. Fill the bottom of the parchment with dried beans or baking beads. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove the crust from oven, then remove the parchment and beans. Brush the crust with the egg white, and then bake until golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Set on a rack to cool.

While the crust is baking and then cooling, prepare the filling. In a small saucepan, heat the frozen berries, and the 1/2 cup or 120ml of water. Bring to a boil.

While that's coming to a boil, whisk the cornstarch and remaining (2 tbsp plus 1 tsp) water in a small bowl. Stir well and set aside. When the fruit and water come to a boil, turn it down to a simmer and stir for 3 to 4 minutes.

Whisk in the sugar, cornstarch mixture, lemon juice and salt.

Turn the heat up a little bit and keep whisking until the fruit mixture thickens and becomes a gorgeous glossy thick fruity gel.

Remove the gel from the heat.  In a large bowl, stir the gel with the fresh berries.

Spoon into the baked crust, then let it sit for at least 2 hours before cutting into it.


This fresh blueberry pie is my contribution to this month's Friday Pie Day, the brilliant creation of Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. (Formerly girlichef.)

I am pleased to join her on the last Friday of each month for pie and crust recipes, techniques, tools of the trade, and other inspiration.

This month Heather made an easy lobster pie. Doesn't that sounds divine?

For more information and recipes, please check out her #FridayPieDay page!


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Roasted Savoy Cabbage Slaw with Spicy Bacon Dressing

Roasting cabbage wedges before slicing them for coleslaw brings out the sweetness in this winter vegetable, which is further enhanced by the salty, spicy, slightly creamy bacon dressing. Best of all, this coleslaw can be made a day or two ahead.

We eat a lot of salads in the summertime, especially since we moved to Dubai three years ago. With temperatures soaring it’s hard to think about turning the stove on unless it’s really, really necessary and something chilled and fresh like this Tuscan Bean Salad is the perfect dinner. As we head into Autumn, salads get heartier and we enjoy what the French called salades composées including this Sweet Potato French Bean Lentil Salad. But even during winter here, salads are a favorite. They change complexion somewhat, with the addition of couscous or bulgur wheat, making them heartier and more sustaining. Or they feature winter vegetables like cabbage and Brussels sprouts. This week our Sunday Supper group is sharing winter salad recipes, hosted by super Sue of Palatable Pastimes. Make sure you scroll on down to the bottom to see all the great dishes we have for you today.

For the coleslaw and dressing:
6 slices streaky bacon
Rendered bacon fat from streaky bacon

For the coleslaw:
1 head Savoy cabbage (Mine weighed 1 3/4 lbs or 800g.)
Generous handful small red radishes – About 9 or 70g – Put more if you love them.

For the dressing:
1 clove garlic
1 small purple onion – about 2 1/2 oz or 70g
1 small red chili
2 tablespoons white Balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons plain Greek-style (thick and full fat) yogurt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon bacon fat (or use more olive oil)
1 heaping teaspoon whole grain mustard
Good pinch flakey sea salt, plus extra to taste once the coleslaw is tossed

For optional garnish – young beet sprouts

Fry the bacon until crispy and drain on some paper towels. Set aside one tablespoon of the bacon fat for the dressing and save the rest for brushing on the cabbage before roasting.

Preheat your oven to 425°F or 220°C.

Cut the cabbage into six thick wedges and place them in a large baking pan. Brush the bacon fat on with a pastry brush.

Roast the cabbage wedges in your hot oven for about 15-20 minutes or until the tops are turning brown. Some of the leaves on the bottom may get very dark. If they taste burnt when they come out, discard those bits.

Mince your garlic and chili pepper and put them in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar. You can remove the seeds of the pepper if you don’t like things too spicy, of course. I left mine in. Cut the onion in half and then slice it as thinly as you can. Add it to the vinegar bowl and stir.

When the cabbage is out of the oven, set it aside to cool. You want it to be browned on the edges, but still crunchy.

Add the yogurt and the mustard into the dressing, along with the salt, and stir well.

Chop the bacon up, reserve a good handful for sprinkling on the coleslaw and add the rest to the dressing, along with the 1 tablespoon of bacon fat you set aside earlier and the olive oil. Mix well.

Once the cabbage is cool enough to handle, cut out the hard stalk in the middle and slice the wedges up into strips.

Remove any thick ribs as you go along. You can share these with your furry helper, if he’s nearby. Vegetable lover that he is, mine is always right under foot when the cutting board comes out.

Cabbage, you say? Don't mind if I do. Cabbage is good for dogs! 

Remove the ends of the radishes and slice them into pretty white circles rimmed with pink.

Pile the sliced cabbage and radishes into a large bowl with plenty of room for tossing.

Add on the salad dressing and toss well to coat.

Taste a piece or two and add a little sprinkling of salt, if necessary. This can be served immediately or stored, tightly covered in the refrigerator for a day or two.

When you are ready to serve, let the coleslaw warm up a bit, if it’s been refrigerated. Give it another good toss, plate it up then top it with the reserved bacon bits and some young beet sprouts, if desired.


Are you a fan of winter salads too? Have we got a line up for you!

#SundaySupper Winter Salads